Why your Public Sector Business Needs an Online Booking System

 

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Managing the finances of a public-sector business is a fine balancing act. Not only are the regulations strict, but budgets are almost constantly under fire as successive governments look to reduce the taxpayer burden whilst maintaining quality public sector services.

Under those circumstances, you’d be forgiven for believing that outfitting your business with an online booking platform might not be a priority at this moment. Well, we’re here to help you explore how that simply isn’t the case.

In fact, not only can online booking software like BookingLive improve the efficiency of your organisation, but it can help increase revenue, offsetting the cost of the platform itself.

To say those are the only benefits though would be to sell public sector online booking systems well short of their true worth, though. That’s exactly why we’ve put together this guide of just a handful of the huge reasons why you need a public sector booking system.

 

Your customers are online

It won’t come as a surprise, but the way that people discover the vital information regarding government services has changed fundamentally since the popularisation of the internet. Once the preserve of phone lines and leaflets, information about public sector services has moved online and the public is discovering that information in droves.

For example, 2015 saw over 659 million people visit local government websites – over 10 visits for every single person in the country. Those are huge numbers, but keep in mind that these numbers are only going up as more and more people gain access to the internet.

 

Your staff are tied up in customer booking management

With budgets tight and staff overloaded with work, it can be a challenge to operate successful, efficient services whilst managing bookings from citizens. By operating telephone booking systems, you’re requiring staff to take time away from their other duties to manage calls, slowing down their workflow and interrupting valuable working time.

A Public sector booking system can relieve your staff of pressures of managing a telephone booking system, letting them get on with their job free from distraction.

 

Manual admin tasks are swallowing your working hours and budget

Admin tasks are tough, boring and often expensive necessities of running any business. For public sector business that takes bookings, though, they can feel particularly frustrating.

BookingLive simplifies your admin tasks by automating a great many of them. Alongside taking bookings from customers online (either at your website or through your Facebook page), BookingLive’s public sector booking software can generate reports, manage staff timetables, send our reminder emails, take payments and issue receipts.

That kind of time-saving functionality can be a huge boon to public sector companies.

 

Many councils are already on board

BookingLive have been proudly partnering with a variety of UK councils with online booking software for a number of years now, helping to drive online booking adoption forwards in the public sector.

This has had the secondary function of raising expectation levels amongst the population, who have come to expect all councils and public service sector businesses to offer an online booking option. Take a quick look at just some of the councils we already work with!

 

Public sector businesses need to fit around the lives of those they serve

If working in the public sector is about helping to improve the lives of the people in your area, it only stands to reason that your booking service should fit around their lives too.

Traditional telephone booking requires specific operating hours, dramatically increasing the difficulty your customers face as they attempt to book. More and more, we all live complicated lives in which we might not be able to get to a telephone within office hours in order to book.

 

By using BookingLive to automate your booking process, your customers can book at any time, from any internet-enabled device, therefore enjoying the maximum ease of use available.

G-Cloud

BookingLive is G-Cloud approved suppliers in providing booking and appointment software to local and central government. So head over to our Public Sector Booking System page to find out more.

 

5 Reasons to Use an Online Booking System at Events

event booking system

When it comes to converting promising leads into paying customers, it’s crucial that businesses give their target audience what they want – and booking systems can help you do just that. From saving your staff time to upselling opportunities, booking systems are a great way of drumming up interest in your next event – but how can you use the day itself to get customers excited about future events?

In today’s post, we’re looking at why event booking systems work so well at a range of different events, and how you can incorporate this tool into your wider event marketing strategy.

Easily link with a CRM

Gathering, storing and then using customer data can be hugely beneficial for businesses operating in various sectors, and CRM software can offer a lifeline when it comes to organising this crucial data. Rather than spending huge amounts of time gathering different aspects of a client’s data, with an event booking system, everything can be done in one place – meaning you can analyse data and trends at your leisure, without having to pour valuable resource into gathering this information. However

Give the people what they wantMobile Online Booking System

With mobile searches now overtaking desktop, more and more online users are turning to their smartphones to book tickets, classes and events – and if your business offers any of the above, you can’t afford to overlook the power of event booking systems.

Whether you’re an SME attempting to generate leads at networking events so you can grow your client base or you work in the education sector and need bespoke online forms to suit your needs, a digital booking system can be designed to help just about anyone looking to take bookings online – and tweaked to meet customer demand.

Establish face-to-face relationships

From branded bollard covers that direct your customers towards an event to gathering a list of attendees’ social media handles, events allow businesses to bridge the gap between print and digital media and use this winning combination to create genuine relationships. By boosting brand awareness and liaising with customers face-to-face, you can make authentic connections and increase the likelihood of repeat custom.

Unlike bookings made over the phone, online systems give the user complete control over the booking process – meaning they’re not reliant on anyone else to go ahead with their order. At events, this allows businesses to point attendees towards their website and means they’re on hand to assist with any queries a customer may have.

Deliver instant gratification

For both you and the customer, instant gratification is one of the biggest benefits of booking online. The customer can book the service they want immediately and you’ll receive the payment, rather than having to sit through long phone booking processes and chase up late or incomplete payments.

Increase bookings on the move

One of the greatest benefits of using booking systems at events is the ability to secure bookings from any location. One booking can turn into another when you execute a successful event and encourage attendees to book onto the next one. This removes any limitations, in terms of customers only being able to process orders from certain locations or devices – giving you the best chance of generating maximum interest in your next event.
Ready to find out more about online bookings? Check out our handy beginner’s guide to online booking systems!

Childcare Vouchers to End April 2018 – Everything you Need to Know

childcare vouchers endingFor millions of parents across the country who pay for childcare, using the Government backed childcare vouchers helps them to save around a thousand pounds a year. It’s an invaluable scheme which allows parents to pay for childcare from their pre-tax salary, effectively offering tax-free childcare.

That might not sound like a lot, but too many parents struggling to in the harsh economic climate; it’s proven to be essential.

Now, in a move intended to simplify and streamline tax-free childcare for citizens, the Government have announced that applications for childcare vouchers will close in April 2018, to be replaced by the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, which is due to begin rollout in April 2017.

Understandably, that’s a worry to parents who aren’t fully aware of what the new scheme will offer them in comparison to the exciting childcare vouchers, or for BookingLive customers who aren’t sure whether to disable childcare voucher support in their system.

In this guide, we’re going to explain everything you need to know in terms of the childcare vouchers change.

 

How does the current system work?

The current childcare vouchers scheme is available for parents with children up to the age 15, and is offered through employers. The vast majority of employers offer childcare vouchers through ‘salary sacrifice’, which works thusly: you might give up £1,000 of salary, but after tax and your National Insurance contribution, it would only be £700. In return, you’d get £1,000 worth of vouchers to spend on childcare, making you £300 better off than you would be if you’d simply taken your salary.

Basic rate taxpayers can pay for up to £243 worth of childcare vouchers each month, working out at £55 per week. It’s crucial to note that this figure is per parent, so two working parents can get £468 worth of vouchers each month.

The childcare voucher scheme will close to new applicants in April 2018.

 

How will Tax-Free Childcare work?

The new Tax-Free Childcare scheme was unveiled during budget week, March 2014, and was always explicitly designed to replace the childcare voucher scheme, although the specific rollout and cut-off dates have since changed.

Tax-Free Childcare is once again intended to help parents with the cost of childcare, though it goes about it in a different way. Launching in April 2017, parents who opt in to the scheme will give eligible families an extra 20% towards their childcare costs.

Even at such a late stage, we still don’t know the exact details of how the Tax-Free Childcare system will work. However, we do know that for every 80p you put in, the state will add 20p, effectively giving you a basic-rate tax back on what you pay.

In total, you’ll be able to pay for childcare of up to £10,000 per child per year, so you could get up to £2,000 per year (or £4,000 if your child is disabled) every year.

 

How will this affect BookingLive customers?

In October 2015, BookingLive introduced a way for childcare providers like schools, nurseries and after school clubs to accept childcare vouchers as a form of payment for their customers who chose to book online.

This has been a huge success and a massive boon to our customers working in childcare sectors, but what does the move to Tax-Free Childcare mean for those booking platforms? You will still be able to accept Childcare vouchers – it just may mean that it won’t be an as popular payment method as it once was.

We’re also yet to hear how childcare credits are managed beyond that date for families with unspent credits to their name. At the moment, you can apply to your place of work to have the credits turned back into taxable income, but it’s unclear exactly what the cut-off date for these conversions will be.

Our development team are always looking to adapt the platform to fit in with current needs and expectations. We do know, however, that childcare tax credits will be in operation until April 2018, so retaining the ability to pay via these methods is highly recommended until this date.

We’ll update this article as and when new information regarding childcare vouchers and Tax-Free Childcare is announced.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of an Online Booking System?

For many companies that take bookings, there’s an unspoken rule – don’t change what isn’t broken. When it comes to taking bookings that mean many don’t stray from old fashioned telephone-based systems because it’s worked for many years so.

It shouldn’t come a surprise to find that there’s a better way of doing things. We speak, of course, about online booking. Online booking systems work by providing a secure and customisable booking platform by which your customers can see availability, book and pay all on your the booking system that’s been implemented on your website!

As a leading supplier of online booking platforms for customers both big and small, we’ve seen the impact an online booking platform can have on a business.

We’re aware that sometimes, the benefits of such a change might not be immediately obvious. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to share with you the advantages and disadvantages of an online booking system.

 

Advantage: An Online booking system saves your staff time

When you think about the workflow of your customer service staff, it becomes clear that an awful lot of time is taken by up handling phone calls from people looking to book, explaining options to customers and managing schedules. The demands of a phone-based booking system require that a member of your staff is constantly available to handle bookings, something that isn’t the case with an online booking platform.

Because BookingLive is fully automated, if there’s space available for a given date, your customer can choose their options, pick a date and time, pay and receive an email confirmation without any human interaction on your end, freeing up your staff to do more valuable tasks in their time.

 

Advantage: Removing the bottleneck of phone booking systems

With a phone-based booking platform, you’re introducing a huge bottleneck online booking systeminto your business that can prevent customers from placing their bookings with you.

Most telephone booking systems rely on customers calling during office hours, but for many people, they simply don’t have the time to book whilst they’re in the middle of their work day. Not to mention the fact that only one caller can book at a time and if someone calls when you’re on the phone this could lead to a loss of a customer due to them unable to get through to you.

Online booking platforms like BookingLive, on the other hand, offer the distinct advantage of letting customers book anytime and anywhere they see fit, on whatever device they’re using. That kind of booking availability can be a huge boost to your business. Taking bookings all around the clock will allow customers to book 24/7.

 

Advantage: Greater sales and marketing synergy

How often do you find yourself saying “all our information is on our website” a day? We’re willing to bet that it’s more than a handful. These days, our websites are more than mere contact information for our brick-and-mortar locations, they’re huge repositories of information regarding our business, what we offer and more.

So why not offer the opportunity to book alongside that compelling copy? By having your booking system implemented and placed on your website with all your content, will result in customers being more likely to make those impulse bookings which brings in that extra revenue.

 

Advantage: Increased revenue thanks to upselling

In any business, you’re going to face immense competition, which typically leads to something of a race to the bottom, price-wise. That’s why it’s so important to upsell your customers. That might mean a meal included on a tour, a life jacket on a water sports activity or teas and coffees in a meeting room.

Online booking platforms like BookingLive introduce upselling into the booking process, letting you offer context-specific items and offers to customers who might have come across them otherwise. It’s just another way online booking platforms help to grow your business and an extra revenue stream for your business.

 

Disadvantage: Can come at a cost

Many Online Booking Systems, for all their advantages, do come at a cost. However, there are free ones around, but you won’t have as many advantages with these.

Some charge you per transactions, whilst others (like BookingLive) charge a flat monthly fee, so you’ll always know how much you’re paying – however, if you overbook your monthly booking limit you would have to either pay for the extra bookings or upgrade your plan. Custom made online booking platforms will charge you a hefty lump sum up front, as well as recurring costs for bug fixes and support.

 

To find out more about our pricing click here. Ultimately, the benefits of an online booking system for your business far outweigh the small monthly cost it would take to implement one, but the notion of cost is something you’re going to have to come to terms with.

Online booking systems open your business up to a range of opportunities, from saving your staff time to a new revenue stream through offering to upsell items.  So keep up with the online booking trend today and contact us, where a member of our staff would be more than happy to discuss how we can help you implement an online booking system.

To see what our current customer’s experience of an online booking system then watch this video!

9 Tips for a Perfect Product Launch

Your business is working on something. It could be huge and it’s an idea that’s sent a ripple of excitement through everyone who’s heard about it. It feels like nothing could go wrong, however, great ideas don’t always translate into great product launches, without thorough research/planning.

It seems cruel, but the world of business isn’t necessarily a meritocracy, and so building an incredible launch plan to go with your incredible product is an absolute necessity.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a young events company hoping to break through the big players or an activity centre planning your next great day out for customers, the fact remains the same; great launches create great revenue, provided your product is good.

In this guide, we’re going to provide you with 9 incredible tips for launching your new product, seen through the lens of one of our customers, who implemented our online booking system.

Know what other products are in your space

No product is created in a vacuum, and despite how original your idea may appear, there will always be competition surrounding the idea. As such, you need to spend the time investigating what other companies have done and are doing in the space. If you’re a company that takes bookings, you’ll understand that many of your competitors are now taking bookings online, meaning that this is the way that the market is shaping, and you should most likely keep up with the trend.

Your job as you launch a product is to know what other companies are doing, what they’ve got right and what you think you can improve. How will your product disrupt the space? For the activity centre that approached us for an online booking platform, they’d noticed that competitors in their area hadn’t utilised an online booking platform yet, giving them an important edge, and a USP from their competitors who have yet to catch up with the online booking trend!

Really get to know your product

For many businesses, the job of marketing doesn’t sit in the hands of those who devise the products and services that are being sold. Meaning that it’s vital for the marketing team to know the product inside out!

If that’s the case, you need to get to know your new product intimately before you draw up any plan. Join in on development calls; get to know why the product was designed and what problems/market gaps they’re trying to fill and ask as many questions as you can, to really extend your knowledge on it.

For example, our customer whom recently launched their booking system with us, really got to know the system, taking weeks to familiarise themselves with the advantages and uses of their booking system.  This became extremely useful during their product launch as they really knew what to tell their audience and how to say it. This then resulted in a successful product launch.

Prepare your staff

Customers ask questions, so have your staff fullyfacebook ad copy trained up and understanding of what your product is, and its distinct advantages is of vital importance. If you don’t do it pre-launch, confusion will only spread through your staff and on to your customers. If you’re launching a new product, it doesn’t give off a good impression if the staff don’t know all the necessary information they need to.

If your staff have full knowledge on the product, they would be able to answer any questions customers have once the product has been launched. In terms of someone launching a booking system, it would allow staff to know where to point customers when they book, and able to lead them through the process if they are having problems doing so.

Don’t expect people to find your product by accident

“If you build it, they will come” might have worked in Field of Dreams, but when you’re launching your product, that’s not how it works. Any product launch should come backed by a unified announcement and promotion strategy which combines effective copy, targeted marketing across social media and email, plus press releases sent to the relevant places.

Take, for example, our activity centre, launching their online booking service. Customers would have little notion of its existence if it weren’t for the information they sent out to them from staff. The best way for the business to do this would be through an email campaign as a formal announcement/update.

Develop your branding early, but don’t become too attached

When launching a new product or service, you can run ahead with the branding from an early stage. The name and messaging of your product will help guide its development, and it’s what customers will interact with long before they get to use your latest and greatest.

However, remember that these things should never be set in stone prior to launch. Everything can be improved, and if the market shifts underfoot as you prepare to launch, you need to be ready to change.  Therefore this also adds that it’s important to be prepared to allow change.

Involve yourself in testing

The testing phase for your launch is crucial because it’s going to reveal an awful lot not just about your product, but your audience. Involving yourself in this process, either anonymously or in an official capacity will teach you huge amounts about usability, you’re messaging and virtually every aspect of what you’re attempting to launch. Plus it’s important to ensure that your product is fully functioning – you don’t want to launch something that isn’t complete to a satisfactory level.

From there, you can not only change what has to be changed but truly understand a product’s purpose and appeal outside of your perspective.

Set an ambitious goal

No matter how small the product, service or idea you’re attempting to launch, you need to be setting yourself ambitious goals. From your launch and into the months and years following, your goals for the product should be high. By using a best case scenario model, you’ll be aware just how effective your launch has been. It also makes you, and your staff, wanting to aim high in order to meet goals. If you’re Expecting 400 new customers but end up with 150? Something hasn’t gone to plan in the product launch.

Launch with an eventgift-vouchers

New product launches are a great way to attract one-time customers back to your company and a brilliant way to get customers off the fence and buying from your company. However, they’re going to need a little encouragement outside of the sheer ‘newness’ factor of it all. That’s why we always recommend launching with an event. To ensure that your event is a success you will have to put out all the relevant advertising, which will bring in your current customers, and additionally new customers.

With BookingLive, you can easily set discounts and sales, which, along with a marketing push can drive sales through your business, as well as familiarise customers with the platform. This is something to consider when launching an event as you could give them a discount code to book with once the product has been launched.

Pick the right channels to advertise through

Today, the market for all products is extremely diffuse, with customers using a huge variety of media platforms to discover products and services. Along with that has come more complicated, but more targeted advertising platforms.

When you’re launching, it’s crucial that you spend the time to evaluate and understand each platform before you begin your advertising. Returning to our activities centre booking platform launch, they found that Facebook was an extremely fruitful marketing platform, and not only published articles and adverts pointing out the new booking method.

 

If you’re looking to launch an online booking system within your business then feel free to get in contact with us today, or sign up for our free demo.

6 Essential Skills of A Tour Guide

Tour operators live and die by the skill, passion and drive of their tour guides. As the true backbone of any tour company, tour guides bring the magic to your tours and bring customers back time and time again. However, it’s not a job that just anybody can do. It’s a demanding position that requires superb memory, incredible performance skills and great customer service.
Whilst it’s true that no two tours (or tour companies) are the same, there are some common traits which help tour guides really stand out.  There are six key skills of a tour guide that you should be carrying out on your tours:

tourbookingsystem    tourbookingsystem    onlinebookingsystem

 1 – Communication

It should go without saying that every tour guide worth their salt has excellent communication skills. A good tour guide is articulate, easy to understand, has the physical capabilities to command attention and project their voice across potentially large groups of people.
They should also be able to communicate one on one, answer questions with calm and remain approachable even when under pressure. It’s a big ask, but these qualities are what really determine how memorable your tours will be in the long run.

2 – Energy

Ultimately, the success of your tours will come down to the energy levels of your tour guides. Tour guides need the ability to sustain a high level of energy throughout the working day, keeping guests interested and involved throughout the tour. Low energy levels affect everything from communication to customer care, so ensuring your guides have good energy levels is essentials. If you have low energy levels, then this will affect the energy levels of your customers.

3 – Dynamism

Your tour guides are going to be faced with a huge variety of challenges as they go about their job. It’s more than just addressing crowds, but also answering individual questions, handing out advice, problem-solving and much more, all whilst attempting to hold the attention of your guests.
So to ensure your tours are the best, your tour guides should have a passion for the city/country which will really increase their love for the job – and the customers love for the tour! As such, dynamic characters are essential to the function of your tours.

4 – Memory

As a tour operator, you know that you’re not just selling the sights and sounds of a location, you’re selling the whole package. That includes a breadth of knowledge about the area that most simply don’t have. Naturally then, your tour guides are expected to retain a huge amount of information and be able to recall it with absolute ease.
Ultimately, your tour guides should be able to know their script so well that it flows naturally, like a friend telling another a story, rather than somebody working their way through a script. That’s the kind of talent that only comes with fantastic memory.

5 – A sense of humour

Long after the facts begin to fade in your guests’ minds, the memory of the fun they had will remain, and the key to building those everlasting memories is humour. Your guests might be there for the history, but anyone can lose interest when the facts are presented in a dry and humourless way.

A little humour brings life to any tour, dramatically increases enjoyment levels and helps to relax your guests into their experience.

6 – Professionalism

For all the adaptability demanded of a tour guide, professionalism must always be retained. Your tour guides will be dealing with crowds, high-pressure situations and customers from a variety of cultures. As such, retaining professionalism and courtesy is essential at all times. Guides who don’t do so, may rack up some complaints, lose control over groups and therefore won’t leave the customers wanting to come back.

 

With these six traits, your tour guides can provide engaging, informative and entertaining tours to your guests. However, getting those guests to sign up for your tours isn’t easy. That’s why our tour operator online booking platform is there to help you get customers signed up safely and quickly, allowing you to then manage your online bookings effectively! To find our more about our booking system, sign up for our demo!

Good recruitment and better bookings? That’s the basis of a successful tour operator.

What is a Salesforce Booking System?

Online booking software is a way for customers to make bookings with your business. Whether your business is an activity centre, a tour operator or even a course provider, there is no doubt your need for an online booking system.

However, there’s more to a successful online booking system than just helping your customer make their booking, because good customer relationship management plays an essential role in improving the customer experience, driving repeat sales and understanding your client base.

There are countless technologies available which enable tracking and analysis, but Salesforce is amongst the very best. But what is a Salesforce enabled booking system, and how can it improve productivity, boost sales and help you manage your staff? Join us as we explain all.

 

What is Salesforce?salesforcelogo

Salesforce is a suite of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools designed to help businesses big and small dramatically improvetheir customer service, retention rates, purchase analysis and much, much more. Available on a rolling contract, Salesforce is a class leading product.

Utilised by some of the biggest businesses in the world from Coca-Cola to Sony, it’s a highly respected and widely used platform. CRM’s are known to improve customer retention by as much as 27% and Salesforce booking system customers report a 39% increase in sales.

 

How does a Salesforce enabled booking system work?

By combining Saleforce’s analytical tools with your online booking software, you can see more information at a glance than you ever could before. Automatically generated analytics bring together information that’s more than of mere interest, but of vital importance for a business which wants to drive up customer retention.

For the customer, the experience remains much the same; they visit your website, and enjoy a secure booking experience. However, from the back end, you have access to an unprecedented number of tools that can help your business move forward in ways previously unattainable.

 

What features does Salesforce have?

Salesforce pride themselves on offering a complete suite of business applications to monitor and manage everything from sales leads to customer complaints. Here’s what you can expect from Salesforce’s suite:

  • Sales Cloud: Salesforce automation tools and CRM
  • Service Cloud: Class leading tools for customer service and help desks
  • Community Cloud: Tools for collaboration between customers, partners and employees
  • Wave Analytics: Serious analytical data for every booking, website visit, email interactions and more.
  • App Cloud: A development platform for creating cloud-based applications
  • IOT Cloud: A connected device platform for the next major wave of technology, the Internet of Things
  • Commerce Cloud: Digital commerce, point of sale and order management for your business

Each of these services can be taken individually or together, but there’s no doubting the utility of such services for your business.

 

How does Salesforce integrate with BookingLive?

BookingLive is our award winning secure online booking software, and with support for over 50 different integrations, it’s a deeply customisable experience. We’ve long understood the value of Salesforce’s software and since then built Salesforce support right into our software.

With BookingLive and Salesforce, your staff can log in to BookingLive using their Salesforce ID and even launch a booking process from within Salesforce itself.

Using both services together, BookingLive and Salesforce help to empower your customers to book, whilst Salesforce’s world-class analytics, support and tracking helps you to deliver better service, business growth and stronger online sales.

To find out more about a Salesforce booking system, visit their website here. To find out more about BookingLive, sign up for a free demo or take a tour of the features of our amazing booking platform.

Custom Booking System vs. BookingLive

As a business that takes bookings, you’ll know that it’s no longer enough to only take bookings over the phone. The way that customers book, and expect to book, has changed dramatically over the last decade – with a huge proportion now expecting online booking as standard, rather than an option.

An online booking system not only benefits your customers but also your business – saving your staff time and business money. However, when it comes to picking an online booking software that suites you, things can get a little confusing.

On one hand you’ve got, BookingLive, our award winning solution for businesses big and small. On the other? Custom booking systems. In this guide, we’ll share with you the pros and cons of each.

Custom Booking Software: Advantages and Disadvantages

Custom booking solutions are built from the ground up by a team of developers for your business. With your guidance, they’ll build a platform designed to work across whichever platforms you deem necessary.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of a custom booking platform:

Pros:buying online

  • Designed with your demands in mind – By having a booking platform custom built, you’ll be sure that the features you require are included in your system.
  • Efficient – Rather than bloated with features, a custom booking system can be as barebones as you need it to be.
  • Upfront payment – Whilst BookingLive charges a small monthly fee for using the platform, a custom booking system is only paid for once.

Cons:

  • Inflexible – Once built, your platform is incapable of change without significant coding work. This can result in your platform becoming outdated rather quickly.
  • Expensive – Custom booking system are typically expensive endeavours, requiring a great amount of man hours in order to incorporate even the most basic of features expected by customers, like secure payment gateways.
  • Lack of support – Unlike BookingLive, your custom booking system will have no support, so if something goes wrong, you’ll be short any immediate help.

 

BookingLive Online Booking Software: Advantages and Disadvantages

BookingLive provides online booking software, designed by our team of expert developers and built with years of experience supplying a  variety of businesses with secure booking platforms, from activity centres to local authorities. Easy to install, regularly updated and with support for every major platform, it’s a hugely compelling option for booking business of all kinds.

Here’s the advantages and disadvantages of BookingLive’s software for your business:

Pros:

  • Wide range of configuration options – Unlike a custom booking platform, BookingLive is extremely flexible with what it allows you to do, with a choice of plugins and configuration options available you can customise your booking platform to fit any need.
  • Trusted by thousands of businesses – Whether you’re an activity centre, local government or course provider (or any other industry we work with) BookingLive is a trusted way for customers to book online. In fact, it’s so trusted, 9 out of 10 would recommend it.
  • Expert support included – Our excellent support team are always on hand to help with whatever issues you may have with your system. From setting up, to your day to day operations, we’re ready to help.
  • Secure – At BookingLive, we take security extremely seriously, which is why BookingLive is built to deliver a secure booking environment for your customers.
  • Scalable – Our price plans ensure that businesses of all sizes are able to afford an award winning booking platform. Our servers are SSL-encrypted to ensure that all the data that is passed from the web server and browser remains private. We also ensure that our servers have excellent up time and file storage, to give your business superb scalability going forward.

Cons:

  • Monthly subscription fee – Unlike a custom built booking platform, BookingLive is only available on a rolling monthly contract. Our studies have found this to be the preferred payment method, however, some may prefer to buy outright.

 

To find out more about BookingLive, take a tour of our features or sign up for a free demo.
bookinglive

Defining Project Goals and Objectives for Activity Centres

The first step to success within any business is to define the goals and objectives that you’d like to see achieved. It is never a great idea to jump into action with a goal, if you only have a few rough plans on the topic. So taking the time to define project goals is utterly essential in helping to see a project through to completion.

A huge proportion of businesses failings can be traced back to the planning phase, when goals exceed objectives. Badly planned goals and objectives, or goals without objectives along the way, could potentially push projects off course, lead to personality clashes and even into debt.

But what are project goals and objectives, and how would you go about defining them?  Within this blog post we will be exploring how they can help your activity centre move positively, providing you with real life examples.

 

So, what are Goals and Objectives?

Of course, you know the traditional definitions of
‘goals’ and ‘objectives’, but within business they take on a slightly different role. Put simply, goals are the ‘what’, whilst the objectives are the ‘how’ this will lead to your goals.

Goals – The broad statements

We’re all familiar with goals, they give us targets to hit and aspirations to aim for. For an activity centre, some of your goals might look something like:

  • Increase repeat bookings by 15% over the next 12 months.
  • Encourage a 50% increase in visits to the website, with a 10% boost to conversions.
  • Transition away from phone-based booking and towards an online booking platform.

Setting project goals like this is an essential marker which you can judge your activity centres achievements by. You might have multiple, specific goals or just one broad goal. Either way, it’s important not to confuse goals with objectives.

Objectives – How you’ll achieve goalsproject targets

Objectives are the specific statements that will help support and actualise the goals you’ve set. Every goal will sport a number of objectives, and put simply, objectives are how you’ll achieve your goals.

You’ll find many sources suggesting that you should always start your objectives with an action verb, and whilst we see the value in this, it’s not entirely necessary. If you’d prefer to do otherwise, feel free to, but in the examples below we are following the structure of creating objectives to support achieving the overall project goals.

 

Project objective examples:

Goal 1: Increase repeat bookings by 15% over the next 12 months.

Objectives:

  • Create an email campaign to target one-time bookers with your company.
  • Design a special offer for existing clients to encourage repeat bookings.
  • Compare how the competition encourages repeat bookings and implement their most effective measures.

 

Goal 2:  Encourage a 50% increase in visits to the website, with a 10% boost to conversions

Objectives:

  • Implement a paid social media campaign to encourage visits to the homepage.
  • Launch a blog with valuable information to boost visits & SEO.
  • Investigate A/B testing on product pages for increased conversions.

 

Goal 3: Transition away from phone-based booking and towards an online booking system.

Objectives:

  • Identify leading online booking platforms
  • Compare the feature sets of online booking platforms before picking one
  • Launch an email & social media campaign to encourage bookings through the website, drawing attention to the ease and simplicity of booking online

If you’re having trouble defining objectives, take into account four main areas: quality, score, time and money. It’s then possible to build a multifaceted objective quickly.

 

Timeframes

Another aspect of project objectives that should be noted is that; whilst goals might have a loose timeframe of a year, objectives should have a much specific and rigid timeframe in place, in order to achieve the project goals. So it’s all about planning the small steps in order to achieve the overall goal.

Let’s use an example of a goal and its objectives from earlier:

Goal: Increase repeat bookings by 15% over the next 12 months

Objectives:

  • Create an email campaign to target one-time bookers with your company
  • Design a special offer for existing clients to encourage repeat bookings
  • Compare how the competition encourage repeat bookings and implement their most effective measures

In this example, the timeframe for this project management goal is included already. However, defining objective time frames can be a little trickier. As a rule of thumb, however, we recommend that you give yourself until a third of the way through your goal timeline to complete your objectives.

With the remaining two thirds, you’ll be able to see the effect that your objectives have on your goal, and be free to course correct if something isn’t working out as you’d intended.

 

Why is this valuable?

By placing an emphasis on this dichotomy, it becomes clear how you should go out and achieve your goals. Merely setting goals is rarely enough to see a project through to completion, especially if you’re delegating to a team.

By dividing goals into individual objectives, both you and your team know exactly what needs to be achieved and how you plan to achieve it.

Whilst it’s true that many businesses make use of this system, it does little to diminish just how valuable it can be for a fledgling activity centre, attempting to carve out a niche in a crowded market.

Beginner’s Guide to Online Booking Systems

The internet has fundamentally altered every aspect of running a business, and that includes the way we make and take bookings. Gone are the days in which customers would pick up the phone, pull out our diary and pick a date which worked for both parties.

In 2016, we book online through social networks, dedicated websites and third party comparison sites. Our calendars automatically update to reflect our booking and we’re instantly emailed a reminder of our upcoming bookings. Put simply, we’ve entered an age of overwhelming simplicity for the customer, but what about for the business?

If you’re interested in online booking systems but don’t know how booking works or any other detail around online booking, you’re in luck. In this guide, we’re going to break down everything you need to know in this beginners guide to online booking systems.

What is an online booking system?

Put simply, an online booking system is software which allows a potential customer to book and pay for an activity or service through your website. Advanced booking systems like ours also allow customers to book through social networks and even on their mobile phones, helping deliver bookings wherever your customers happen to be.

Online booking has grown rapidly to supersede traditional phone booking systems, which required members of staff to be on hand to take bookings and manage them manually.

How does an online booking system work?

An online reservation and booking system exists entirely within your website, and requires no installation from your customer to continue with their purchase.

A customer will land on your website and choose which activity or service they’d like to book, and then will click through to the booking page. At this stage, the customer will fill in a booking form. Custom forms can also be set, allowing you to harvest whatever information you require in order to complete the booking.

The customer will then give their card details to pay through a secure payment gateway, and the payment will be transferred to you. This information is displayed in our secure Content Management System, which is only accessible via a login and password, offering greater security than competing booking methods.

Are online booking payment secure?

Computerised booking systems are, on the whole, extremely secure. Gone are the dark days of the Internet where every transaction felt like it might be a scam, replaced instead by a broadly secure framework which supports consumers.

All transactions placed through BookingLive’s software are very space. Every payment gateway that we use is chosen to help keep payments secure and customers safe from fraud. That means the use of HTTPS and proprietary security protocols which ensure trust in your business is never eroded by unscrupulous scammers.

What payment methods do online booking systems accept?

BookingLive online booking software enables payments through a variety of methods, accepting all Visa and Visa Debit cards, credit cards and trusted online payment providers like PayPal and Google Wallet.

Which types of businesses can benefit from an OBS?

If your business, company or organisation takes bookings of any kinds, it too can benefit from an online booking and reservation system. The following are examples of businesses which we’ve helped implement successful online booking platforms:

  • Schools
  • Leisure centres
  • Gyms
  • Local government
  • Childcare providers
  • Activities companies
  • SMEs
  • Training providers
  • Tour operators

So, if you’re wondering what impact an online booking system has on your business, the answer is a huge one. Put plainly, if you’ve got a business that takes bookings and a website, you need to join an online booking system.

How much do online booking systems cost?

Online booking systems are cheaper than many imagine them to be, and are scalable for businesses, making them a compelling option for businesses of all sizes.

BookingLive software costs from £50 a month for companies with less than 100 transactions a month, that’s 50p per booking – an entirely reasonable cost given the time and effort you’ll save from manually managing your own bookings.

Do online booking systems take a cut of my bookings?

Many free online booking software platforms make their money by taking a hefty slice of your transaction in return for connecting you with your customer. At BookingLive, we never charge per transaction, instead working on a flat, fair rate that works for everybody.

Advantages of online booking software

Online booking software platforms have a huge number of potential benefits for businesses and consumers alike. Here are just a few examples:

  • Reduced number of man hours managing booking activity.
  • Centralised customer data for easy customer management.
  • Bookings can happen at any time, from anywhere in the world.
  • Reduced customer service requirements.
  • Instant payment, reducing the need to chase up on deposits or cheques.
  • Effortless integration with social networks and with coupon websites.
  • Bookings can be managed from a mobile device, perfect for small businesses
  • Simplified booking procedure for customers.

These are just a selection of the countless benefits an online booking platform can bring to your business.

Does my business need an online booking system?

By now, we’ve covered every aspect of online booking systems and answered many of the most commonly asked questions that are put to us on a near daily basis. However, we haven’t touched on perhaps the most vital of all – does my business need an online booking system?

bookingsystem

The simple answer is; if you have a business that takes bookings and you have a website, absolutely, yes. The big trend in e-commerce over the last five years has been simplification. Research has revealed that the more steps between your customer and their purchase, the less likely they are to go through with it.

By forcing your customer to book over the phone, you’re severely limiting the number of bookings you can receive, and in tough economic times, that’s an ill-advised position to take.

Getting started with an online booking system couldn’t be easier. Simply request a free demo from our team and we’ll work with you to help get you set up within 30 minutes. A dedicated member of our staff will be with you every step of the way and before you know it, you’ll be taking orders and managing customers online with ease.

Have more questions? Look at BookingLive’s frequently asked questions or contact us.